Ese Johnson stopped in front of Adam’s office and took a deep breath. She straightened her skirt and smoothened her hair, she was not nervous but seeing Adam again made her heart beat slightly faster. Of course she had made no time for her heart, today she was a journalist. Maybe some other day she could afford to be an ex-girlfriend.
She was about to knock when the door swung open. A woman carrying some files in her hand stood in the doorway, the woman frowned when she saw her.
“Hello, can I help you?” The woman asked.
“Hi, my name is Ese Johnson and I’m here to see Detective Ademola.” The woman smiled, her name must have meant something to her.
“Is there a problem?”
“I…” She started.
“Who’s there?” Adam called from inside, cutting her off.
“You may go in.” The woman said, moving away from the door. “Your girlfriend is here to see you.” She called out to Adam and left the office.
Adam stood up behind his table as she walked in.
“I am your girlfriend? Is that what you’re telling everybody?” She asked with a smile.
“Don’t mind Tola Dosumu, she’s my lovely assistant. Married, unfortunately I might add.” He replied with a childish grin. “You are welcome to the CIB director’s office, please sit. And wow, you look stunning!”
“I’m back to stunning huh?” It was the word he had used to describe her the first day they met. Stay focused!
“Ese Johnson in my office, to what do I owe this surprise?”
“You know why I’m here, Detective.” She said sitting down. Despite her resolve to be distant and professional, she could not help herself, he still had her swooning.
“The murder? You too? Why is everyone so interested in this murder?”
“Hey…hey, why do you keep calling me ‘Detective’? Just stop it, alright? We don’t date anymore doesn’t mean you have to become all official.”
“Detective…” Adam threw up his hands in exasperation. She smiled and continued. “…this is a big case. The city has not seen something as gruesome as this in years. Everybody is interested; the government, the cops, the people, the press…”
“The press? You mean you?” Adam asked with a chuckle.
“Yes, I am- TBC is interested in the case and that is why I am here.”
“Okay, what do you want?”
“We want exclusive interviews and reports from you and the CIB throughout the investigation.” She watched Adam for his reaction. He just looked at her, he knew how to keep his emotions to himself, it was one of his biggest problems as a boyfriend. Stay focused! “Well?”
“I’m sorry, can’t do that.” He replied pointedly, not breaking eye contact with her.
“Common Adam…Detective, this is going to be a symbiotic relationship, we’ll help you too.”
“You will help me?” He asked, a smug smile spreading over his face. “How would you do that?”
“Okay, what do you know about the girl- the victim, what do you know about her?”
“She was a prostitute and she…well, she was…” Of course, he did not know much about her.
“So you have nothing. Did you know, she was coming from a hotel, one she had frequented, three times a week for the past two weeks?”
“And you know this how?” he asked, arching his eyebrow.
“We have a crime desk, we investigate these things too but there are doors that a police badge can open that my press ID cannot.”
“Do you know who she met with at the hotel? Was it the same person throughout the two weeks?” Now, he was interested.
“Detective, I came here for something- something I’m yet to get and you want to fleece information from me?”
“You know you have to give me that info if you have it, it’s obstruction of justice if you don’t.”
“Wow, you want to play it like this Detective?” Adam could be a hard nut to crack, but she would get what she wanted one way or another. “Well, she met with the same person but we don’t know who that is yet.”
“Thank you for that info Ese. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you but I wouldn’t mind getting a little help from you now and again.” His smugness was annoying. “Why did you leave the NTA anyway? You had a cool job hanging around rich and powerful politicians.”
“Being hit on by filthy corrupt pot-bellied politicians constantly is not cool, I’d rather chase killers, rapists and other non-political scum of this world.” She said standing up.
“It’s not a world for the weak, be careful.” Adam replied without standing.
“The weak? Is that what you think of me, detective? Well, all the best with your investigation.” Ese said and moved towards the door.
“Hey Ese, I didn’t mean it like that.” He said, standing up and moving towards her. “I’m sure you’ll do great, okay?”
“Goodbye detective.” She said and walked out of the office closing the door behind her.
It had not being her idea to ask Adam or the CIB for exclusivity, she knew she could hold her own against other journalists but her boss and her douche bag partner thought she needed help. She had been put in her place by Adam but she was going to shock them all, maybe even get an award out of it all.
His mind could not leave the meeting he just had with Ese as he stood in front of St Andrews. She still had an effect on him, something he had tried not to show. The crime scene was less depressing than his time at the coroner’s or his foolish meeting with Ese, the church after all was supposed to be a place of joy. The body had been found on the stairs of the church, the pastor had met the surprise as he arrived to open the doors in the morning. The church certainly would not be having new comers any time soon. He walked around the building and came back to the stairs, Tola on his heels.
“This is not the crime scene, right?” It did not make sense, he had expected a lot of blood. You could not cut a body open without leaving a mess- except it had been cleaned up. “Dosumu, did this church folks clean up the place?”
“No, they were told to leave it plus the police have been guarding this place. It’s become a tourist attraction, I’m sure the pastor would prefer that they entered instead of gawking from a distance.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he would.” Adam stooped to examine the concrete stairs. There were a few drops of blood here and there, but there were no pools or splatter, things he expected. “This murder was not committed here, the body was merely dumped on this stairs.” It made the crime scene almost useless, except that it raised a question; why dump the body in front of a church?
“I know what you’re thinking, why the church, right?” Tola asked, he nodded and she continued. “Come check out the photos that were taken before the body was moved. The Pastor said he did not touch the body so the killer must have left it this way.”
He moved close to her as she opened the pictures on her I-pad.
“The body does not look like it was dumped in a hurry, it was done deliberately. See how he spreads her leg and rests her joined hands on her stomach? Ritual killing is what this looks like to me.” Tola said, pointing to the pictures.
“That’s interesting, maybe the killer is associated with this church, let’s go talk to that pastor.”
The parsonage was just behind the church, seeing the pastor would not be a problem. Tola led the way, she had more experience with Pastors than he had. The parsonage sat between the church and a large burial ground. Adam cringed at the thought of living with so many dead bodies behind your window.
The wooden stairs of the parsonage creaked loudly as they climbed. An old woman sat staring into space close to the door. They greeted her, she ignored them and continued staring like she was deaf and blind or just could not care less what they thought. Tola knocked on the door and a woman he assumed was the Pastor’s wife welcomed them in.
“Wait here, I’ll get my husband. Can I get you anything?”
“A glass of water please. Thanks ma’am.” The pastor’s wife would probably not be willing to give him a cold bottle of beer, so water would have to satisfy his parched throat.
Two minutes later, she returned with the glass of water and her husband. He was quite older than her, probably by ten years. Adam could not decide if the wrinkles on his face were due to his age or what he had seen that morning.
“Good afternoon Pastor.” Tola was already on her feet, Adam joined her. “We are very sorry to disturb you, especially after what you saw this morning.”
The pastor shook hands with both of them and sat down.
“You know, I’ve been the pastor here for over thirty years and every morning – except when I wasn’t in town, I would open the doors of the church. It was something that gave me great pleasure, you can imagine how horrible it was to find something like that on our doorsteps.”
“Yes, I can imagine sir. I’ve been told you left the body exactly the way you met it, is that correct?” Adam asked.
“Yes, I didn’t move the body, I couldn’t touch it. She was naked though, so I covered her with my jacket before I called the police. Do you think it was a ritual killing?”
That was what everybody was calling it, Adam could not decide. “Well sir, we don’t know at this point. Do you know the lady by any chance, was she a member of your church?”
“A member? No!” The old man looked offended. “I heard she was a prostitute, you usually don’t find them in churches.” He was definitely offended.
“We didn’t mean any disrespect to you or your church.” Tola stepped in. “We are still trying to figure out why the body was left here. It doesn’t look random, it feels like your church was chosen.”
“Our church was chosen as a dumping site for a killer? That should cheer me up.” The pastor stood up. “I wish you all the best with your investigation.”
The pastor had ended the interview, Adam was glad to be out of the pastor’s house. There were two sets of people he did not like dealing with; Pastors and judges. They always made him remember all the wrong he had ever done.
“We are done here, right Tola?” He could not wait to be home.
“We are done here but don’t you even think of going home.” She could read him better than she could read the alphabets. “We are talking to the hookers today. You realize the chief would want daily updates…well until this thing dies down and everybody forgets.”
“Can’t we do that tomorrow? You realize I’m still hung over, my head still aches and I could really use some sleep. You know what, I have an idea. How about we go home and we go interview them later tonight? That’s a good idea, huh?” Adam looked at her, eyes pleading.
“Ademola, you know I cannot come tonight. I’m married, remember?”
“Oh, that’s true, you are married. I had totally forgotten, when did you get married by the way…wait, how old are you?” He asked laughing.
“You know what Ademola, I don’t care what you do, you’re the boss, and it is your reputation on the line, not mine. Just take me back to the office and you can do whatever you want.”
“Thank you, my lady.”
“Wait, one more thing, don’t get drunk tonight.”
“That’s not a problem, I’m not touching alcohol till this case is over.”
The tequila felt good as it slid down his throat. He popped off his shoes, and relaxed on his sofa, glass in hand. He was a slave to alcohol and he hated himself for it, but most days the bottle was his only companion. He had made terrible decisions in the past, decisions that had led to the loss of a life, the loss of his totally cool job as personal aide to the governor and landed him the important job as director of the CIB. He hated the job, many would kill to have it but it represented a punishment to him. It was a promotion technically but it came as a result of making a mistake. He had considered resigning, but it would be admitting to himself and the world that he was a failure. Plus he could really use the money.
Adam stood up from the sofa and placed the cup on the table beside the bottle of tequila and moved away from it, what he needed was sleep, not a pity party.
He was about climbing back into the sofa when his phone rang, it was Kelvin Little.
“Kelvin Little!” It was not his real name. His name was Faruk but he did look a lot like Kelvin Hart, if he was bald and was even smaller in stature. Somebody had called him Kelvin Little and it had stuck.
“Adam, how far? We have not met in a long time, will you come to Caleb’s?” Faruk was one of the people he needed to stay clear of, he fed his alcohol addiction but he was a true friend.
“Faruk, I don’t think I wanna drink tonight. I’m tired plus I have to work later, you heard about the murder, right?”
“Everybody heard about the murder, just come, we won’t drink. I’m waiting.” And he ended the call.
Faruk had not even given him the chance to say no. It was probably a bad idea but hanging out with Faruk was one of the few pleasures he still enjoyed. He was an ex-soldier, which was difficult to believe because of his height, he had fallen on bad times since he was infamously let go for reasons he refused to discuss. He knew a lot and talked a lot, he did not make sense most of the time but when he talked, you had to listen.
Adam moved to room, threw on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and grabbed his car keys on his way out.
His mind went to the murder he was investigating as he eased his car unto the road. Ritual killings were not strange or far-fetched, but this particular one made the air on his neck stand. It was pure evil. And there was the case of the removed liver. Why would a killer remove the liver of his victim? Was he an evil man who fed on human livers or a ritualist who needed a human liver for his money rituals? Then there was the issue of dumping the body in front of a church.
He shook his head, he was not going to let the case get to him. It would blow over and they could all return to their normal lives.
He slowed the car to a stop as he eased into Caleb’s, it was an exclusive lounge and bar where he met with Faruk. Faruk was already waiting outside.
“I can’t believe these people won’t let me in after all these months of coming here with you.” He said as they shook hands.
“Remember, you need one of this.” Adam said, showing him his membership card. “It’s exclusive for a reason.”
“What are you trying to say man? I’m not good enough? Is it because I’m short? Look here, I have fought for this country, what’s greater than that?”
Adam laughed as he showed the guard his card and they were ushered in.
“What do you do here when you don’t drink, Faruk?” He asked as they settled into a corner where they could observe without being noticed.
“You look at rich people and the fortunate girls who will be getting their money tonight! If I was a girl, I could really do some damage.” He threw his head back, laughing hard at his own joke.
“You think I…hold on, I think I have a call.” He dug into his pockets and brought out his phone, he had a call, it was Tola. “Hello Madam”
“Ademola, how are…wait, are you in a club? Adam!”
“No, I’m not in a club. Well, you could say…forget it. Why did you call me?”
“Why did I call? You remember the case? You said you were going to speak to the victim’s co-workers tonight.”
“Yes I still plan to. The time is just…”He lifted his arm to look at his watch.”…oh my God, it’s almost seven. Don’t bother with the lecture, I’m going there now and thank God I have help.” He terminated the call before she could add any reprimands.
Faruk had always wanted to solve a big case. He had seen enough TV shows to know how, in his opinion, he was going to get his chance.
“Faruk, I’ve got something better than watching these fake people. How about we go do some investigation?”
“Are you talking about the ritual killing? Are you kidding me?” He asked, jumping up from the sofa. “Let’s go baby!”
“Who is your baby?” Adam asked chuckling.
The guard at the door eyed them as they stepped out of the lounge, it was strange to enter Caleb’s and not buy anything. They crossed the corridor into the car park and moved towards his car.
Faruk saw it first. The envelope was stuck under the wiper of his BMW.
“You see that Adam?”
“Yeah, I do.” He lifted the wiper, picked the envelope, tore it open and brought out the note inside. He held the note against the light shining from the Lounge’s exterior.
A word of advice Detective,
Leave this alone, stick to your booze.
You were a failure on your last job,
You will fail in this also.
You will not catch me, so don’t waste your time.
“What does it say?” Faruk asked.
Adam folded the note and put it in his pocket.
“Well, it says ‘screw me’”